The Palestine International Book Fair, now in its eleventh year, opened May 3 in Sarda, north of Ramallah, boasting 500 publishers from all around the world.
This year’s fair is the first event being held on the grounds of the new Palestinian National Library.
The Palestine Information Center reported on Sunday that Jordanian and other Arab publishers had been stopped at the Allenby border crossing, even though their books had already made it through ahead of them and delivered to the fairgrounds.
The Jordanian Publishers Association (JPA) denounced the measure. The association said the Palestinian Authority has always submitted entry permits for publishers so they can attend the annual book fair and that they “have been always accepted except for this time.”
Fair director Nawal Heles told Arab News that “nearly 300 Arab authors and publishers” were denied permits. Heles further told Arab News she’d received no explanation from the Israeli side.
The book fair is set to run for ten days, through May 13, ending before the scheduled May 14 march along the border in Gaza. This year’s book-fair theme is “Palestine is the Homeland and Jerusalem is the Capital.”
Among the guests of the exhibition are the Algerian novelist Wassini al-A’arj, Iraqi poet Menem al-Faqir, Syrian poet Nuri al-Jarrah and Syrian writer Khalil al-Nuaimi. The Palestine Cultural Forum Awards, are set to be announced later today.
Meanwhile, the Palestine Festival of Literature, popularly known as PalFest, has announced that they are taking this year off. In a statement, organizers write: “We felt we needed to take a step back and consider the way the world has changed in the past decade and how we as a festival need to adapt to respond to that.”
Our focus has long been the connection of international and Palestinian literature, our model a traveling festival stopping in cities across historic Palestine, our paradigm: the writer as witness. Working with over 200 Palestinian and international artists we hoped our festival would create experiences that filtered into their work and then out into the wider cultural discourse.
But as cultural producers we need always to be able to rethink and reimagine our roles. The political dynamics of the region have changed, as have the tools through which we each understand our world. The contours of the battle being fought over Palestine are constantly evolving.
So we’ve taken a year to think and imagine – and plan to be back with in 2019 with a fresh festival equipped to engage with the changing landscape of the present.